Think of the CHILDREN(S Arts Education)

September 14, 2016
3 mins read

I need your help. (Don’t worry, I’m not moving. You can help me from your couch.)

See, I need, well, want your money. It’s not for me, it’s for my friend: the arts. Some months ago, Beaches Fine Arts Series invited me to be one of their “stars” (for the other participants, the quotation marks are not necessary, but for a nobody like me they absolutely are) in First Coast Dancing With the Stars, a charitable cause benefiting BFAS, which provides free concerts, arts enrichment programs to kids of all ages and more.

Flattered, I thought, “Sure, why not? It’s for a cause near and dear to my heart and I love competition and dancing.” (I perhaps forgot to consider the fact that my love of dance is akin to my love of song — and nobody would pay to hear me sing except perhaps barnyard cats during their special time, wink wink, hiss hiss.)

So once a week since the beginning of May, I’ve spent an hour on hard wood with my delightful partner Benjamin Clark of Monarch Ballroom and Dance Studio, learning moves and contorting myself into positions that my doughy editor’s body had not previously contemplated, let alone believed possible. It’s been both humbling and rewarding.

And now, in mere days, my skin will be dyed a beachy shade of tan, my hair will be curled, teased and sprayed beyond all reckoning, every corner of my face will be painted, false eyelashes glued in place for the first time in my life, such sophistry being far from the norm for girls from Paw Paw, West Virginia who grew up to become a waitress-turned counselor-turned bartender-turned freelance writer-turned editor (long story) then I will pour every lump of myself into a dress so revealing it could double as a bathing suit — and not one of the burkini variety.

Why so many augmentations? Well, to get me *gasp* camera-ready. That’s right, after Saturday, Sept. 17, a recording of me wearing a beautiful sparkly dress with a hemline to here that shows way, way more skin than I’m accustomed to displaying at events that don’t involve swimming, and doing my best to channel Shakira while dancing the salsa to a Beyoncé song will be part of my permanent public persona. If I bust my ass, I bust it on the record for all time. If I miraculously manage to flawlessly perform every spin, every kick-ball-change and windmill, well, then I may as well retire, because it ain’t gonna get any better than that.

In short, I’m going further outside my comfort zone than ever before — and this is coming from someone who wore a banana costume to throw the first pitch at a Suns game earlier this year.

Am I nervous? Nope, scared shitless. Excited? Beyond belief. Ben and I have worked and worked and worked some more on this routine. This week alone, we’re spending four hours rehearsing it. I’ve been practicing my moves on city sidewalks, at public parks and in my office, kitchen and yard. For breakfast these days, I’ve been drinking concoctions of kale, carrots, banana, apple, yogurt and flax seeds that look something like liquefied lawn, which segue nicely into the salads I’ve been lunching on instead of sandwiches and the healthier choices I’ve been making at dinner. Don’t judge; this woman cannot survive on vegetables alone. Lucky for Ben, our routine doesn’t include any lifts. I — and my love of all things carbs and cheese — insisted.

Now I’m asking you, dear readers, to reward my hard-working, sequin-wearing, risk-taking self by giving up some of your hard-earned cash to support the arts locally. Type or click the link to the First Coast Dancing with the Stars voting page,, and vote for me and Benjamin Clark as many millions of times as your heart desires and wallet can manage. Or just once. Though millions would be better. Take note that voting ends Friday, Sept. 16 at midnight. So vote today!

If not for me, do it for the children(s arts education).

Whether I bust my butt or cut a rug like a much-less-awkward version of myself, as I’m sincerely hoping to do, after the eyelashes are removed and dress returned to Rhinestone Rentals, which generously donated rentals to the cause, I’ll post a video on FW’s social media channels, which include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and — soon — HI-FI. No matter how left-footed (or not) I look on camera.

Folio is your guide to entertainment and culture around and near Jacksonville, Florida. We cover events, concerts, restaurants, theatre, sports, art, happenings, and all things about living and visiting Jax. Folio serves more than two million readers across Jacksonville and Northeast Florida, including St. Augustine, The Beaches, and Fernandina.

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